Benefit to help truck driver with medical expenses

Steven Ward is shown at the Charleston Speedway, where he works as a flagger and track official. Benefits are being held in Danville and Charleston to help Ward as he battles cancer.

DANVILLE — Steve Ward, who’s battling cancer, never thought he’d see his name in big letters on flyers posted around town.

The flyers advertise a benefit for him from 1-5 p.m. Sunday at the American Legion Post 210.

“It’s sobering — the outpouring from people around this town,” he said. “I’m grateful.”

Ward, 54, was diagnosed three months ago with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that originates in the disease-fighting lymphatic system. He has been unable to work at his job at R&L Carriers while he undergoes chemotherapy and radiation.

The benefit is being arranged by his mother, Bonita Teeters; sister, Shelli Ward; and aunt, Marilyn McFadden; other friends and relatives are helping.

The event will feature a 50/50 raffle (tickets are $1 or six for $5), bake sale, silent auction and three bands, Mike Ellis Band, Chrissy Sparks and Dixie Flyer. Food will be available: barbecue with sides, $8; hot dog with sides, $7; and baked spaghetti with green beans and dessert, $9.

Teeters is amazed at the number of items that have been donated for the silent auction, including about $600 worth of gift certificates. Every restaurant in the area has donated, she said.

Among the items are two birdhouse benches, a hand-made cornhole game, quilts, crocheted items, Cubs and Cardinals themes, game chairs for kids, homemade desserts and much more. There also will be a cash bar and time for dancing.

At least 20 volunteers are helping, Teeters said, adding, “Everybody chipped in and did everything.”

As for her son, Teeters described him as outgoing, and said, “He’d do anything for anyone.”

There also will be a benefit for him on May 26 at the Charleston Speedway, where he is a flagman and track official.

Ward, a 1983 graduate of Danville High School, also is a trustee for Elwood Township and a Vermilion County Fair board member.

Ward said his illness started in November 2017 as back pain, which also went down his leg. He thought he had pulled a muscle at work, and described the pain as excruciating. However, an MRI found lymph nodes in his midsection were swollen. He went through three rounds of chemotherapy at Carle, but a PET scan found that the chemo wasn’t working. Instead, the cancer moved from his leg to his face.

He then underwent eight radiation treatments, and those weren’t effective.

Finally, he went through two rounds of a stronger dose of chemo. Another scan showed that 80 percent of the cancer was gone.

He also underwent a blood transfusion.

Last week, images didn’t show any sign of cancer, but the doctor stopped short of giving him a clean bill of health, he said. He will go to Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis on May 31 for a consultation.

“It’s been an eventful winter,” he said.

Financially, his mother said, “He’s just struggling like crazy right now.”

The Danville Dashers donated proceeds to him after one of their games.

Ward isn’t getting paid while he’s off work, but has some insurance.

He has a daughter, Rachelle Ward, and two sons, Matthew and Douglas Ward.

FYI

An account for Steven Ward has been set up at Danville Bell Credit Union.

He also has a Facebook page.